Two brothers from San Francisco have set a new record. Their amazing feat is for the longest highline ever walked in both Yosemite National Park and in the state of California. But for these high-flying brothers, helping their friends succeed was the biggest thrill.
In the past decade, the sport of highlining has flourished. Highlining is high-altitude slacklining, a sport similar to tightrope walking. It involves walking along a narrow strip of strong nylon webbing—usually an inch wide and a few millimeters thick. The webbing (similar to thick seatbelt material) is strung between two anchor points and serves as a kind of balance beam. Only highly experienced persons should attempt slacklining!
“Completing a line” means carefully walking heel-toe from one end to the other while wearing a waist-harness linked to a three-inch steel ring around the webbing. If walkers fall, they remain attached. But they have to haul themselves back up . . . or shimmy back to an anchor point while dangling upside down.
Earlier this month, brothers Moises and Daniel Monterrubio and a group of friends spent nearly a week rigging a 2,800-foot slackline across a series of 1,600-foot gulleys in Yosemite’s Taft Point.
The Monterrubios had been thinking about crossing the Taft Point void for a year. “Every time we’d go out there, we’d think about that line,” Moises Monterrubio says.
The brothers have a reason for their daring hobby. They are training to be rope-access technicians. Electricians, engineers, and other professionals must often work in to hard-to-reach places—especially heights.
Over the course of six days earlier this month, the Monterrubios used the help of 18 friends and fellow highliners to navigate their webbing through and across the landscape. The riggers hiked lines up from the valley floor, rappelled down from the cliffs above, and maneuvered through countless tree branches. Their anchors were a set of granite boulders at Taft Point and an old, thick tree trunk at the other outcropping.
The longest highline walked in Yosemite had been a 954-footer extending from Taft Point to an anchor east. The new line was almost three times that length.
At sunset on June 10, the line was set, and the brothers were ready. Daniel walked the line first. He fell three or four times in the wind but made it across. Moises went next. He fell twice but caught himself on the line above the craggy landscape.
For four days afterward, the Monterrubios’ friends took turns on the line. Most of them fell as well.
The group received permission from national park staffers in advance. Still, Monterrubio says, “It was pretty intense and dangerous. But we made it happen.”
The pride of a highliner is to conquer a line without slipping off. Eventually, Moises walked the line in 37 minutes without a fall. So did fellow highliner Eugen Cepoi, Moises’ mentor.
Moises seems to take a “Rejoice with those who rejoice” (Romans 12:15) attitude about his success. “The most rewarding part was seeing all my friends at the anchor excited about just having it done,” he says. “I value that more than crossing.”
(Highliner Daniel Monterrubio walks the 2,800-foot-long line above Yosemite Valley in Yosemite, California, on June 12, 2021. Scott Oller/Scott Oller Films via AP)